February 29, 2024

China’s increased seismic activity and the devastating earthquakes it’s experienced in the past prompt concern for future disasters. On Tuesday, a strong earthquake occurred in Xinjiang, with about 40 aftershocks. Past earthquakes, including a deadly one in Tangshan, Hebei, in 1976, have caused widespread destruction. However, some scientists believe that the increased number of earthquakes in the region might be due to the movement of the Indian tectonic plate. The Indian plate is converging into the Eurasian plate, causing the Tibetan Plateau to “grow” upwards and increasing the risk of geological disasters in western China. The scientist believes that global warming may further increase the risk, making it easier for vegetation to develop in geological fault zones and causing more geological activity. On the other hand, it is also noted that improved monitoring equipment may be contributing to the increase in recorded earthquakes. Despite these developments, officials stress that anthropogenic activities cannot systematically change the trend of strong earthquakes, which are thought to be controlled by tectonic behaviors. The USGS suggests that the increased number of recorded earthquakes may simply be due to more seismic instruments being available to monitor seismic activity.

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